By Renee Fraser
For faculty new to teaching in the community college, there is a whole new language to master. There are acronyms (FTES, SLOS, CLOS) there are college specific terms (admin) and there is FLEX. So what is Flex, and how does it affect you?
The Flexible Calendar Program (Flex) was instituted by the California State Legislature, and consists of staff development activities in-lieu-of regular instruction.
It's found in Title 5, the section of law that governs community colleges (CCR, title 5, division 6, chapter 6, subchapter 8, article 2, section 55724, item a-4). Flex activities can be, but are not limited to, training programs, group retreats, field experiences, and workshops in activities such as course and program development and revision, staff development activities, development of new instructional materials, and other instruction-related activities.
Before the law was passed, community college professors had no paid time for professional development. Since our class loads are so much greater than university professors, and our other responsibilities are so time-consuming, there just wasn't enough time for professional development.
According to the City College of San Francisco (CCSF, ha!) "The flexible calendar program was initiated by six California community colleges in 1976 as a pilot project authorized by Assembly Bill 2232 (1975). The six pilot colleges were Cabrillo, Grossmont, Cosumnes, Saddleback, San Jose City, and Evergreen Valley. These six pilot colleges were allowed to reduce the number of required instructional days from 175 to a minimum of 160. The bill provisions allowed the colleges the opportunity to replace up to 15 days of regular instruction with alternative activities such as course and program development and revision, staff development activities, development of new instructional materials, and other instruction-related activities."
"Implementation of the flexible calendar program at the pilot colleges involved reforming the instructional calendar to accommodate instruction free days for faculty development activities. The use of flexible calendar days was accomplished through a shifting of the traditional calendar. With the success of the pilot programs, legislation (Assembly Bill 1149) was drafted in 1981 that allowed all colleges the option of adopting a flexible calendar program." So each year, AFT Local 1828 bargains with the District to create an Instructional Calendar, which includes any number of Flex days.
How does this affect part-timers? Because many part-time faculty members are teaching at other campuses or working at other jobs, they are not required to go to the organized professional development events the campus holds during specified flex days. Instead, part-timers can use any professional development activity as their flextime, as long as they complete the number of hours they would normally have taught that day. We are always welcome and encouraged to go to the organized flex activities, but we are not required to attend. So if a Flex day falls on a Thursday and you would normally be teaching on Thursdays, but it has been set aside for Flex, you have to spend the number of hours you would have taught in a professional development activity of some sort. If your class meets on Wednesday, you would not be responsible for any hours, since the Flex day fell on Thursday.
For the same reason, part-timers don't have to go to the full-time "Mandatory Flex Day" (aka "Convocation" at Moorpark). It should actually be called "Full-time Faculty Mandatory Flex Day" since only full-time faculty must go. Part-time faculty MAY attend "mandatory" Flex Day if they wish, but they are not required to attend.
To recap, part-time faculty members can fulfill their flex hours any time they wish during the semester. They are not required to attend any formal professional development activities on campus. They are also free to attend any of the formal flex events at the campus during flex days, or to fulfill their hours by attending other workshops at the campus that are offered throughout the year. As long as you fulfill your hourly requirement, and fill out the Flex Form by the end of each semester, you are done. (The Flex Form is in the AFT VCCCD Agreement, Appendix H, form B1.) Please contact the Union if you are told that you must attend a particular flex activity.